A message from NH Audubon President, Doug Bechtel
I write to you with a heavy heart and with sadness and empathy for all people of color in America. It is hard to put into words how we feel as we absorb the recent acts of racist violence against unarmed Black Americans. At NH Audubon, we support and are inspired by recent peaceful protests demanding change. We also extend our sympathies and support for all families impacted by needless acts of violence. What is absolutely clear: the seemingly endless series of senseless murders of people of color must stop.
Christian Cooper’s recent experience while birding in Central Park also elicits our sadness and empathy. While connecting with nature through an activity that has become so important to so many during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was a victim of direct racist aggression. As the American Ornithological Society has pointed out in a letter to their membership, “We can take some small solace in recognizing that birds provide a powerful force for community, understanding, and diversity.” We need to work hard to make sure that is part of our cultural fabric in New Hampshire.
We are fortunate in New Hampshire to live in a state that is relatively safe for all citizens. Violence of the level we see on the news can seem far removed from us. While inequality and injustice may be less obvious in New Hampshire than in many parts of the United States, they exist here nonetheless. We all need to recognize and speak out against racism, wherever it may occur.
The natural world doesn’t care about race or gender or other human demographics. Spending time with nature, be it in a city park or a town forest, can heal the body, mind, and soul. Everyone should feel safe seeking that unique solace.
NH Audubon has much more to do to fully engage all NH citizens and visitors in our mission, and this must be a priority for our work. We will make every effort to advance the issues of Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Justice in the years to come. Diversity makes us stronger. Our natural environment is for wildlife. And for people. All People.